Teaching with Anime- Halloween Activity
Halloween is one of those interesting little holidays where we don’t get the day off, but there might be special events throwing the regular schedule into chaos. At best you have your regular schedule, but let’s be realistic, even the high school students are not totally focused on the lesson at hand. I found this to be true even in Mongolia, which doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but the students still got into the spirit of things, regardless. The essential teaching question on Halloween is how can I use my time effectively, while still letting the students get into the spirit of things? Thankfully for science teachers I have just the thing, the biology of monsters, specifically the biological basis of anime monsters. FYI– this could also be used for the classic horror movie monsters as well.
The Biology of Monsters
Michael Scott once said “At the heart of every legend there is a grain of truth.” Your job today is to discover that grain of truth behind the monsters popularized by recent anime. Some of these monsters will be Western adaptations, while others will be unique to Japan. Choose one of the following monsters and answer the questions below and be prepared to share your discoveries.
1- Monster name.
2- Origin of the name.
3- First appearance in folklore (include the country of origin)
4- Briefly describe the original myth.
5 What special powers/ abilities does the monster have?
6- Does it appear in the myths and legends of another country?
7- Examples of the monster in modern media.
8- Compare and contrast a modern interpretation of the monster with its original myth
9- What potential evolutionary benefits would the monster’s special abilities grant them?
10- Can any part of the monster myth be explained by science? If yes please explain in detail.
11- Are there any real-world animals that might share traits with the monster in question? If so, do you think that it could have inspired the monster myth?
12- Using real world science, how would you restrain/ kill the monster?
13- Is it possible for the monster or any of its traits to exist in the real world?
14- Do you think that this monster myth was created by people to explain some real-world phenomenon that could not be explained at the time?
15- Do you think that modern scientific knowledge makes the classic monsters more or less interesting/ horrifying?
I realize it’s not the longest assignment, but it really isn’t meant to be something beyond a classroom assignment and/or homework, depending on the length of the periods in your schedule. As for grading, I would go fairly easy on the grading, due to its nature of a fun little assignment that might not actually fit into the unit you are teaching at the time. I would give the students 100 if they answered all of the questions and really took the time to answer the questions. I would take off 6 points for each blank question, and maybe 1 or 2 for single sentence answers for the longer questions. Also, feel free to add or subtract questions, as necessary, specifically the science questions, which I included because I would be using this in a science classroom.
Cross Curricular Activity
Now I’m no English teacher, but I do remember reading the Iliad and Odyssey by Homer, and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, among others. Monsters and science play at least a small part in each of these works, which means the science and English teachers could collaborate to create a unit based around these works.
For example, in the Odyssey Odysseus and his crew run into a variety of creatures, including the cyclops. As the students read the Odyssey in English class, the science teacher could cover the various science topics that show up in the story. This could include matters relating to sailing, like wind, ocean currents, and buoyancy. Vision can also be covered when discussing the cyclops. Frankly, I think finding the time to plan the cross curricular activity to be the most difficult part. This is in no small part due to the semester block system, that my previous school used, which meant few, if any, students would be taking Science and English during the same semester. The second major problem is the timing so that the teachers trying to create the cross curricular activity are on similar units at the same time.